Catching Air

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Photo by Louis Cahill

By: Alice Tesar

My outdoor gear is always put to the test when I take it for a spin with my toddler.

Recently my partner and I were fishing with him at a local spot that has a wide rocky bend. We let him play around, eat a few rocks, and investigate sunbathing snakes while we got some casts in. I paused to tie on a new fly and he hobbled over to me to inspect my choice. He gestured to hold my rod and while I repeatedly offered him to hold my net instead, he insisted on the rod and began to throw a tantrum. In a moment of trust or parental weakness — it is all a blur — I let him hold the rod. In a split second, he had run two-rod lengths down the shoreline and was jamming my 4 wt. Winston Pure under the water, bent in a right angle, back-and-forth in the freestone river bed. As fast as he got away, I was bear hugging him, the rod, the net, and, well…the fly was hugging my thumb with its barb. To my surprise, the rod and all its guides were still intact. Everyone talks about the Winston Feel but I think the Winston “Durability” also needs some credit. The three of us regrouped, removed the barb from my thumb, the tantrum prone toddler went back in the pack and we cast on. 

I was relieved to see that the rod was casting fine given its recent assault. The Pure is a dry fly rod made for precise presentations and light flies and it is spring in the Rockies which means deep nymph rigs. Nevertheless, it was a new rod and I was looking to put it to the test. With some effort it cast my weighted nymph rig sufficiently but the true magic of a rod like the Pure is its presentation of a dry fly. Feeling the flex in my palm, the nearly weightless rod shoots a size 18 CDC Midge to the top of the riffle. A long, slow drift made effortless by the rod’s flick-of-the-wrist mending capacity. We did cast dries to a few rising fish as the morning went on, but as happens more frequently now due to the wandering toddler, I’m not paying as close attention to the river’s hints nor the trout’s take. We left skunked but with our rods intact.

When we became a family of three, we were gifted a book that we condemned to the shelf immediately. “We’ll catch the air. We’ll catch the breeze,” the father says to his son repeatedly as they go to the river to fish. I hated this line; I wanted to catch a hog not nothing! The book recently came off the shelf in an effort to mix up our nighttime repertoire and I reluctantly read it aloud. This time I was completely infatuated with the father’s ability to engage his son’s imagination. From tall green trees that become soldiers at attention guiding their way towards the river to birds that become singing angels, the son and his hookless rig catch the air, the breeze, and a love for the wonders of the natural world. To quote my partner, “our priorities have changed from a 3-fly nymph rig with the proper weight to teaching our son how to care for and enjoy river life.”

It has never been easy for me to leave the river without a catch.

And while it still isn’t, my love for fly fishing has matured. Like aged cheese, I may have gotten stinkier at catching, but every moment out there is more and more flavorful. Spending time with my partner, letting the tot empty our fly boxes, listening to the birds, “talking” about the ducks floating down rapids, sharing snacks, and small moments of understanding has become our happiness. Which brings me back to where we began, gear that stands the test of an unexpected toddler’s grab-and-dash so I can spend less time worrying about tools and more time enjoying time well-spent.

Alice Tesar
Alice guides for Steamboat Flyfisher in Steamboat Springs CO.
Gink & Gasoline
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2 thoughts on “Catching Air

  1. Pingback: Catching Air – Cheap Fishing Equipment

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